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Highlights: Presidential candidates compete for battleground states

Get coverage and electoral vote updates.
Image; President Donald Trump and Joe Biden on a background of red and blue stars in concentric circles.
Watch live presidential election results as ballots are counted in key swing states for President Trump and Joe Biden.Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

This live coverage has ended. Continue reading election news from Thursday, November 5, 2020.

The United States remained in electoral purgatory on Wednesday afternoon as officials scrambled to count the millions of votes still outstanding after Tuesday's presidential election.

Democratic nominee Joe Biden sustained an overall Electoral College lead after being projected as the winner in key Midwestern battlegrounds Wisconsin and Michigan. President Donald Trump vowed to take legal action in both states, as well as in Pennsylvania, where over 1 million ballots remained uncounted.

Stories we're following:

—Nov. 5 highlights: Presidential candidates compete for battleground states

Amid shrinking odds of victory, Trump campaign plans legal battle

Republicans break with Trump, say take time to count all the votes

—See which counties in the remaining battleground states have the most votes left to count

Fact check: Trump's false, misleading claims about ballot counting in key states

President Trump on Wednesday continued to promote false claims about the election and ballot processing after vote tallies in key states appeared to move in Joe Biden's favor in the early morning hours.

Twitter flagged a series of the president's tweets as "misleading," including one in which he said, in part, that his leads "started to magically disappear as surprise ballot dumps were counted." There were no "surprise" ballot dumps in the states Trump appears to be referencing — states such as Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan that NBC News has characterized as too close to call and will be pivotal to deciding who wins the White House.

Valid ballots are still being tabulated in those states, and rules restricting when officials in key states could begin processing mail ballots have delayed the vote count into Wednesday, at least.

In another tweet, Trump claimed, "They are finding Biden votes all over the place — in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. So bad for our Country!"

This is an incorrect characterization, since officials are not "finding" Biden ballots. More Democrats voted by mail this year than did Republicans, and as more mail ballots are processed, the totals are changing.

In one of the earlier tweets that Twitter labeled as misleading, Trump also appeared to suggest that Democratic officials are corruptly influencing the elections in their states. There's no evidence for this. Republicans also hold control of at least one part of the legislature in Michigan and Wisconsin, two states where Trump was leading last night but where valid mail ballots have caused the tallies to shift narrowly in Biden's favor with 97 percent of the expected vote in.

In fact, the president's party and his campaign bear some responsibility for the counting delays Trump is using to cast doubt on the validity of the results. Lawmakers in Pennsylvania sought to change the rules to enable the processing of mail-in ballots prior to Nov. 3, but negotiations broke down between the state's Democratic governor and the Republican-controlled House; each side blamed the other.

In Michigan, Republicans in the state Legislature only agreed to allow larger jurisdictions to get a 10-hour head start on pre-canvassing ballots, even as election officials pushed for more time. In Wisconsin, GOP Sen. Ron Johnson pushed the state's Republican Legislature to allow the processing of mail ballots ahead of Election Day, but the it did not act. 

Trump, Biden wait as vote counting continues in states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania

Election personnel handle ballots as vote counting continues in Atlanta on Nov. 4, 2020.Brynn Anderson / AP

WASHINGTON/DETROIT — The presidential election remained undecided Wednesday, turning the nation's attention to a handful of battleground states that continue to tabulate the crush of mail-in ballots that will decide if Donald Trump or Joe Biden will be victorious.

NBC News has projected the outcome in 42 states, giving Biden a narrow lead over Trump in the Electoral College count. But both remain shy of the 270 delegates needed to win, with many critical battleground states still either too early or too close to call.

As of Wednesday morning, NBC News has yet to project a winner in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania or Wisconsin. Biden leads in Arizona. Some of these states have indicated that enough of their vote total could be in by the end of the day in order for a winner to be projected.

Read the story.

Trump's campaign manager says they will 'immediately' call for a Wisconsin recount

Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien on Wednesday said the campaign will "immediately" request a recount in Wisconsin.

"The President is well within the threshold to request a recount and we will immediately do so," he said.

As it stands, Biden holds a lead of more than 20,000 votes over Trump in Wisconsin with virtually all of the vote having been reported.

Wisconsin election law allows for candidates to request a recount if the margin in the race is 1 percent or less. Biden is currently up by 0.6 points over Trump.

But former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, warned that the effort could be futile.

"After recount in 2011 race for WI Supreme Court, there was a swing of 300 votes," Walker tweeted. "After recount in 2016 Presidential race in WI, @realDonaldTrump numbers went up by 131. As I said, 20,000 is a high hurdle."

Dow soars by more than 800 points, as investors regroup without 'blue wave'

Wall Street continued to climb Wednesday, recording some of the biggest gains since April, even as investors braced for a lengthy wait to determine the winner of the presidential election.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed by around 800 points, with the S&P 500 trading higher by around 3.4 percent as traders ditched infrastructure and industrial stocks in favor of tech stocks. The rebound came as traders reassessed the possibility of a "blue wave" that would have accelerated the passing of a stimulus package.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq jumped by as much as 4.5 percent, as investors sought out safer havens in a sector that has performed well under stay-at-home orders. Shares in Facebook were up 8 percent, Alphabet was higher by 7 percent, and Amazon gained by around 6 percent.

Many investors see continued Republican control in the Senate as good for markets, with lower prospects of new taxes or regulation hitting their bottom line.

Georgia still has at least 240,000 votes left to count, secretary of state says

In Georgia, where the presidential race is too close to call, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Wednesday morning “our job isn’t done yet” and that they still need to count 200,000 mail-in ballots and between 40,000 and 50,000 early in-person votes. 

He said that the counties covering the Atlanta metro area, DeKalb, Fulton and Cobb, as well as Forsyth County, are still counting all of those votes and then will need to move on to counting ballots returned by overseas and military voters. 

Raffensperger said his team across the state is trying to finish counting the votes by the end of the day.

"Every legal ballot will be counted,” he said.

Election workers count ballots at State Farm Arena in Atlanta on Wednesday.Jessica McGowan / Getty Images

Partisan observers fuel tension as Detroit election workers tally absentee ballots

DETROIT — As the nation anxiously awaits the final vote tally in Michigan, the state's political attention is turning to a massive convention center basement in downtown Detroit.

Hundreds of election workers have been working in shifts here since Monday to process an unprecedented flood of absentee ballots in Detroit that will be crucial to determining whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden won this battleground state, and whether Democrat Gary Peters has held onto his seat in the Senate.

Both political parties are here in large numbers, with scores of partisan observers representing major political parties as well as organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Election Integrity Fund, an organization affiliated with the conservative Thomas More Society that sued the state over the summer over its absentee ballot procedures.

Hundreds of Detroit election workers, seated, process absentee ballots Wednesday in the basement of Detroit's TCF Convention center while partisan observers, standing, look on.Erin Einhorn / NBC News

The counting process has mostly been peaceful but poll challengers say they've seen some tense exchanges.

"There's been some aggressive conduct and sharp disputes," Democratic challenger Ralph Simpson, a Detroit lawyer and political activist, said. "Things like 'show me the ballots,' and 'should those be counted?'"

But ballot counting has continued.

Michigan secretary of state says major cities to complete count within hours

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said Wednesday she expects for the remaining, uncounted vote in places such as Detroit, Flint, Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids to come in later in the day.

The country will have a "much better picture [of Michigan] by the end of today," she told reporters at news conference. 

Benson said the reason the count has been lengthy is because election workers are tasked with confirming the validity of every ballot. Tens of thousands, she added, remain outstanding.

"You all can trust the results as an accurate reflection as a will of the people," she said.

As it stands, Biden holds a more than 30,000 vote advantage over Trump in the Wolverine State as he seeks to flip the state Trump carried in 2016. Much of the remaining vote in Michigan comes from areas that lean Democratic, like Detroit.

NBC News Exit Poll: In Maine, Biden wins solid support from liberals, women and voters 65 and older

Joe Biden is projected to win Maine with strong backing from groups including women, college graduates and voters 65 and older, according to the NBC News Exit Poll of early and Election Day voters.  

Support for Biden in Maine was, not surprisingly, strongest from liberals — 94 percent of them went for Biden, and they comprise 3 in 10 voters in Maine. In addition, 61 percent of moderates and 57 percent of independents also voted for Biden.   

Sixty-four percent of women cast ballots for Biden as did 69 percent of college graduates and 63 percent of voters 65 and older. 

Vote Watch: Twitter takes action on multiple Trump tweets

Twitter is taking quick action on the president's tweets calling into question the legitimacy of the election.

The social media platform labeled two of Trump’s tweets Wednesday morning with warnings that their claims regarding continuing vote counts were potentially misleading about the election, following a similar action taken in the early morning hours.

In one tweet, which Twitter also restricted from comments, likes and retweets, Trump baselessly claimed his advantage in states led by Democrats "started to magically disappear as surprise ballot dumps were counted."

Another used a manipulated or misleading screenshot of a map from an elections results reporting outlet to suggest that 100 percent of a new count of votes in Michigan went to Biden. That did not happen. 

"As votes are still being counted across the country, our teams continue to take enforcement action on Tweets that prematurely declare victory or contain misleading information about the election broadly,” Twitter spokesperson Nicholas Pacilio said in a statement. “Our teams continue to monitor Tweets that attempt to spread misleading information about voting, accounts engaged in spammy behavior, and Tweets that make premature or inaccurate claims about election results. Our teams remain vigilant and will continue working to protect the integrity of the election conversation on Twitter."

Twitter’s actions follow several similar steps from election night in which it labeled and limited engagement on a tweet from Trump claiming Democrats were trying to “steal the election.” Facebook took similar steps to label identical posts on its platform.

Biden wins Maine, NBC News projects

Biden picked up three of the state’s four Electoral College votes Wednesday afternoon as key states continued counting ballots. NBC News has not allocated the remaining Electoral College vote.

No winner in the presidential contest has been declared.

Pa. officials urge patience with 50 percent of mail-in ballots counted

Pennsylvania officials urged patience at a press conference Wednesday morning as counties continued to tally mail-in ballots, saying again that they had expected for the count to be a slow process. 

Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said he’s confident that all votes will be counted fully and accurately.

“I will do everything within my power to ensure that the results are fair and that every vote is counted. Pennsylvania will have a fair election,” he said, adding that it would be “free of outside influences. We all will vigorously defend against any attempt to attack that vote in Pennsylvania.”

Wolf added, “We may not know the results even today.” 

Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said that they expect to receive 2.5 to 3 million mail-in ballots — 10 times the number of mail-in ballots cast in 2016. Only 50 percent have been counted as of Wednesday morning, she said, saying millions more were still left to be tallied.

Boockvar said to expect “a lot of updates” throughout the day.